Round 1: Sterling delivers a front kick to the face. Gibson misses with a spinning kick. Sterling closes the distance and lands a knee to the body. Gibson presses forward and works for a takedown. Sterling defends the attempt. Sterling misses with a right hand and Gibson ducks under and secures a takedown. Sterling works his way to the cage and uses it to stand. They separate. Sterling secures a takedown off a missed right hand by Gibson. He works in the half guard position. Gibson gets back to full guard. Sterling lands right hands to the body. Sterling postures up and Gibson rolls and works to stand. He does. Sterling lands a knee to the body and they separate. Gibson lands right hands to the body. Sterling closes the distance and presses Gibson against the fence. He delivers knees to the legs of Gibson. The round ends. MMAWeekly scores it 10-9 for Sterling.
Round 2: Sterling is the quicker of the two. Gibson lands a left hand and initiates the clinch. They exchange knees to the body. Gibson delivers right hands to the body as he has Sterling pressed against the cage. Gibson trips Sterling and gains top position. Sterling quickly gets back to his feet only to be taken down again. Sterling tries to use the cage to stand, but Gibson pulls him away from the fence. Gibson works to take Sterling’s back. Sterling stands and tries to shake him off, but Gibson stays on him. Sterling stands again and turns into Gibson. They battle for position along the cage. Sterling lands a knee to the body and separates. He lands a leg kick. Sterling misses with a spinning back fist and Gibson takes him down. Sterling quickly gets to his feet, and they’re tied up along the cage. Gibson applies a guillotine choke. Sterling stands and pops his head out. The round ends. MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Gibson.
Round 3: Sterling circles on the outside. He moves in behind a left hand and takes Gibson down. Sterling turns Gibson away from the cage. Sterling applies a d’arce choke. He tightens it down, but can’t get it and lets it go. Gibson gets to his feet. He lands a right hand that hurts Sterling. He works for a guillotine choke and drops down to secure it but Sterling gets his head out. Sterling has top position. He lands right hands to the body. He continues to pound away at the body of Gibson. Gibson rolls and Sterling takes his back. He softens Gibson up with short right hands. Sterling applies a body triangle to keep Gibson from spinning. He works for a rear naked choke. Gibson rolls and Sterling has back mount. He lands punches and the round ends. MMAWeekly scores the round 10-9 for Sterling.
The judges scored the fight for Sterling by unanimous decision. All three scorecards read 29-28.
“That third round is always a gut check. When it’s all tied up one to one and you have five minutes to get it done. It’s all about finding that extra something that you didn’t know you had. When I took his back and got my hooks in I was just thinking rear naked choke but my arms were so heavy. I was just focused on maintain the position. It’s always position over submission in that situation because you don’t want to make any mistakes. You want to be exciting for the fans but you also have to be smart, it’s a balance. Just glad I was able to get the win out there tonight.”
“I lost the position two times in the third round and missed the chance to choke him out. I felt comfortable with my cardio, even though I had a short camp. I accepted this fight on two weeks’ notice. I’m going right back to training camp. I need to work on a lot of things so that I can have a successful comeback in the UFC.”